An adult learning charity celebrated its relaunch last week after parting ways with the county council.
Aspire Sussex Ltd, formerly known as West Sussex Adult and Community Learning Service, now runs independently but will continue to work closely with the council to achieve local priorities.
Chief executive Ros Parker said: “We’re currently trying to get to a place where we’ll be self sufficient and have more opportunities to grow and thrive.
“Soon students will be able to access more and different types of education as we prosper.”
Teaching students from 16 years all the way up to those in their 90s, Aspire Sussex Ltd offers lessons in foundation, GCSEs, family learning, skills for life and community learning.
“We have a vast range of programmes in the mornings, afternoons, evenings and at the weekends.
“We pride ourselves in making sure that there are lots of opportunities for people in their local area.”
Partly funded by the Skills Funding Agency, the charity will also look into other donations and legacies to keep itself afloat.
“We’re now providing a lot more ways for people to invest in us.
“We’ve had past students who have gotten back on their feet with a good career and want to put something back in.”
Having worked her way from the ground up, Ros knows how it feels to be a young mum without qualifications and a job.
“I left school with no qualifications at all and as a single parent I had limited resources to access education.
“I was in rented accommodation with my two children, but I wanted to see something better for them. I joined a creative writing class under an adult learning service and within a year I was running it and gaining my teaching qualifications.”
Tom Stagg, 20, was unemployed and looking for a purpose in life when he applied for work experience with the charity.
“When the five weeks of work experience were up I realised I didn’t want to go back home and have nothing to do, so I asked if I could continue as a volunteer and then in September I was offered a full-time position.”
A recent survey on Aspire’s past students indicated an increasing success rate.
Ros continued: “A high percentage of our students have now come off benefits and found work. My goal is to make sure that adult education is always accessible in West Sussex.”